Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello, and thank you for having me! My name is Susanne Bacon, and I am currently 51 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Southwest Germany, where I lived for over 40 years. But at one point I met my American husband, and now my home is south of Seattle in Washington State.
Fiona: A little about yourself (i.e. your education, family life, etc.).
Part of my family had immigrated to the US when I was a kid. That might account for my love for the English language. One of my two Master’s degrees is in English and American literature. After I graduated university, I became a journalist and, later, the editor in chief of a trade magazine for the industry of art, craft, and needle craft supplies. I travelled a lot, which is why I was single for a long time. When I met my husband, I was in my very late 30s. We’ve been married for over ten years now and love to explore places together; enjoying each other’s companionship very much. During the first years over here, I worked as a consultant and blogger for Messe Frankfurt Exhibition in Germany; I also was a translator, and I wrote a column for a Dutch trade magazine. But the split between two continents was exhausting, and I decided to stay closer to home. Today, I’m pretty much a home-maker with a very busy writer’s schedule.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m working on two novels and the translation of one these days; I plan to have them published in 2020.Also, I’ve been marketing what I have published so far way more intensely than ever before, this year. I have travelled outside the county, I’ve been on radio podcasts, and I’ve been interviewed for a production that got aired on YouTube last spring. Now, I’m looking forward to a TV interview I have been invited for.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Does it sound silly when I say there was no other “why” than that my mind would burst if I didn’t? I was a story teller as a kid already; my sibling asked me for extra bedtime stories often enough. As soon as I was able to spell, I borrowed my parents’ mechanical type-writer. That was at age 6 or seven. Only recently I found some of those sheets and had to laugh about how crooked the typed lines were – I was so impatient to see my words pop up on the pages that I pulled the sheets …
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess after I had published my first book of poetry at age 25, I began thinking of myself as a writer. Funny enough, I already had a job as a journalist at that age, which would have qualified me as one already. But I somehow separated the term writer from the term journalist. Which, in hindsight, is ridiculous, of course.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was one of poetry, and titled it “Phoenix”. Poetry is inspired by very strong emotions that are often momentary. Of course, love is the biggest motivator at the young age of 25. Today, I write novels, and the motivation behind them is way more complex. I guess, I simply wanted to share my emotions as a young woman, whereas today, in my novels, I want to send out messages.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Interesting question. These days, I’m writing a series of small-town romances, and they all have alliterative titles. I first think of the story, then try to find an alliteration that I haven’t used before and that is a hint to the topic, as well. “Delicate Dreams”, the first in the series was about a German deli, but also about dreaming of love, while dealing with grief. My latest, “Haunted Homes” is about family history haunting people of the present times, making their homes not into what they could be; it’s also about the furnishings of an old villa that are picked over by a historical museum. The one I’m currently working on is a Christmas novel called “Suddenly Snow” – imagine a small-town cut off by snow from the outer world.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Some readers tell me I write like Maeve Binchy or Debbie Macomber – what a huge compliment! Others say my books read like Hallmark movies. (Hello Hallmark, did you hear this?!) I think I’m a traditional storyteller. Also think cosy stories, something you wouldn’t blush to read out aloud to anybody. My biggest challenge is that I’m not writing in my mother tongue – every once in a while, a Germanism eludes me, and I’m only too glad when one of my beta-readers tells me.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Here comes the fun part –I actually write real people, real businesses, and real places into my books. It started out with friends who requested to be written into a novel. Others come to me and tell me about things that happened to them and ask me whether that wasn’t something to put into my “next novel”. I try to make my books realistic, but a lot of them is pure imagination and research. Such as a cocaine addict in my novel “Clean Cuts”; I certainly had to read up on that. “Delicate Dreams” though is very much based on a short stint I had as a sales associate in a German deli over here.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I plan to republish a WW II novel in 2020.The novel is located in the British Channel Islands during the German Occupation. Actually, I travelled there for a vacation in 1999 before the story hit me. I visited three of the islands, went through their museums, talked to veterans and museum staff, read every single book that was available back in the day. And then I wrote for an entire year. For my small-town romances I prefer to stay closer to home. But who knows what’s coming next?!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Except for my first novel, all the cover illustrations are mine. I drew the ones for my two German poetry and short story books, I arranged photos for my small-town romances. The typography is all the publishing houses’, but I usually have a say as to what I’d like the colour scheme and the typography to be like.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Always. Above all I intend to spread love and mindfulness. But each novel has another message in it. About how important it is to find your place in society, about the importance of communication, about the necessity to place love and friendship above opinion, about the necessity to deal with or create changes in life, about the meaning of your own self above the importance of your family history. That pretty much sums up my small-town novel series.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I constantly run into authors who are new to me, literally. I try to read as much as I can, but I feel floored by the number of books I’ll never be able to read. My favourite writer is Irish author Maeve Binchy. I love how she connects her characters over her entire oeuvre, how she keeps it local and realistic for people from all walks of life. Above all I admire the love she shows for her characters and thereby for human beings. She’s struck a chord in me way before I even thought that I’d ever be able to write any novel at all.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
There have been too many in my life who came in at different stages. The very first was a writer group I co-founded at university. Later it was colleagues and bosses at the publishing houses I worked for. Over here, in Western Washington, I find major support with fellow authors and the Steilacoom Historical Museum, a pioneer place I volunteer for. They were the first to offer me book signings and to sell my books in their museum store.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. If you don’t take writing seriously, it shows. And readers might buy one of your books but never want to read another one. I try to work on my manuscripts each and every day for at least four or five hours. Add to that marketing and PR activities. I invest in marketing materials and events. I exchange tips with fellow authors, I keep my ears open as to what my readers like. I cannot live of my books. But it’s definitely my goal. I guess, that underlines it that it’s a career to me.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I only published my latest book in June. It’s a bit too early for me to analyse whether I should have done anything differently. Maybe, if I found all the typos my editors and I overlooked … But seriously, right now it feels rounded out. In ten or twenty years’ time I may think differently.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
As a matter of fact, I always do. I usually put in something that needs research. In the case of “Haunted Homes” it was easy, though. I describe how a historical museum works behind the scenes. So, that is a little autobiographic. The book before was more research intense – it deals with sudden paralysis through injury. That was an intense topic that I hope I researched and covered reasonably well.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’m not sure I would even want my books to become movies. My protagonists live in my head. They might look different in somebody else’s mind. And to be honest, I don’t even know today’s actors that well anymore. A lot of them look all the same to me. So, if any of my books ever made it into a movie, I’d leave the decision entirely with the producers.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Patience, Persistence, Perpetuity. Be patient with your story development, with your writing speed, with the rewriting process, with success. Be persistent in your endeavour – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and one single book might not lead to the success you envision. What you are writing is perpetuated after you are long gone – therefore, aspire to write your best and your most honest.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for your wonderful support. Of course, reviews are the best support next to purchases – so, please keep them coming. I promise, I’ll do my best to deliver on my side …
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading a really whimsical detective story, “White Corridor”, by British author Christopher Fowler. The crime story itself is riveting, and the detective department solving it is loveable up to its very most absurd traits.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I think it was Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s “The Children of Troublemaker Street”. But my favourite first picture book as a toddler was “One Morning in Maine” by Robert McCloskey.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I’m one of those people who are built close to the water. Anything of great beauty or deep emotion will make me cry. I laugh quite easily too, as I’m a very happy being.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d like to meet all the wonderful people whom I only know via Facebook or email. They are enriching my life so much, and I’d simply love to experience their full personality in real time.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love cooking – from doing groceries to the actual process and to eating the result. I love singing and performing on stage (I had classical singing lessons for quite a few years as a teen). Reading is another one. Of course! And I love to explore new places with my husband; it can be just something picturesque around the corner and needn’t be anything exotic or costly.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love cooking shows. And I find movies with historical topics most exciting. I also love movies based on fiction of past centuries.
Fiona: Favourite foods, colours, music?
I’m all over the place foodwise. It’s easier to answer what I don’t like: Brussel sprouts, sweetly cured meats, oysters, and tofu. I love black and teal. And I listen to classical music, cool jazz, ballroom and Latin dance music, disco music of the 80s as well as some good RNB.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be very sick or dead.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Definitely with my husband. When everything fails, love and friendship are the values upheld to the last. Wow, I guess that almost sounds Biblical!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I want my ashes to nourish a tree. The tree would be my epitaph.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I haven’t set up a website so far. But I share all these things and more on my public Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/susannebaconauthor/. I also have a column and other articles running at https://thesubtimes.com/author/susannebacon/.
Amazon Authors page USA https://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Bacon/e/B06Y16DNPY/.